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Fun for Beginners

Recommendations by Raksab (Seattle, Washington)

These are games that a newcomer to IF might enjoy. They are well-implemented, not too frustrating, and help give a general idea of what kinds of things IF can do.

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1. The Dreamhold
by Andrew Plotkin
(2004)
Average member rating: (114 ratings)

Raksab says:

Designed for beginning IF players (with inbuilt hints) by one of the best-known authors in the field. Dreamhold is richly descriptive, not too difficult, but still has enough puzzles to reward thought and careful exploration. And like the best stories, it has a plot that reveals itself slowly over the course of the game. I enjoyed Dreamhold even though I was no beginner to IF when I played it.

2. Metamorphoses
by Emily Short
(2000)
Average member rating: (92 ratings)

Raksab says:

Quiet but poetic, this game is one of my very favorites. You cannot get "killed," but there are several possible endings, and many of the puzzles have multiple solutions. Metamorphoses is one game that rewards experimentation, and almost everything you try will have some effect. I also really loved the story, which comes to you gradually as you progress through the game's strange, symbolic world.

3. The Space Under the Window
by Andrew Plotkin
(1997)
Average member rating: (71 ratings)

Raksab says:

Another IF that pushes the standards. In this piece, you don't type commands: at the prompt, you type a single word that appears in the printed text, and you will get a "close-up" of that thing. For example, at the beginning, you see a window, so typing "window" will give you a better look at the window. Typing it again may give you an even closer look, or it may cause you to back away. Don't forget to try verbs and adjectives, too. There is a story here, but you may need to play a while, many times over, to assemble the non-linear fragments of it. The whole tale is somewhat of a downer, and I haven't found any way to make things end happily. But maybe you will.

4. Photopia
by Adam Cadre
(1998)
Average member rating: (415 ratings)

Raksab says:

This piece is atypical among IF: it isn't really a game so much as an interactive story. There are no real puzzles (what you need to do to advance the plot is usually quite obvious), and there is no way to change the course of the tale; you can only pause briefly to glance at things around you, as you are swept along to the inevitable ending. That is a major part of what gives Photopia such a powerful impact. The pieces take a while to put together, but some of them will haunt you for a while.

5. 9:05
by Adam Cadre
(2000)
Average member rating: (379 ratings)

Raksab says:

Just play it. Everyone who plays IF should play this game ... once. It won't take long at all, I promise. But you'll want a second round.

6. Conan Kill Everything, by Ian Haberkorn (2005)
Average member rating: (55 ratings)
Raksab says:

Simple. The title pretty much says it all (though with a layer of satire, of course). If you've ever gotten sick of IF games telling you that you're not allowed to break stuff, you should find this one very cathartic. It's short, easy, and amusing, so I think it's appropriate for a beginner.

7. Galatea
by Emily Short
(2000)
Average member rating: (230 ratings)

Raksab says:

Galatea is the most complex NPC I've ever seen in an IF piece. In addition to having a lot of topics understood, she also has moods, will progress along a line of thought on her own, can move around (a little), reacts to touch and physical communication, and may choose to obey orders. You, as the character talking to her, have a persona of your own, but it is limited. The title character is the main focus of this game (more of an art piece than a game, really), and there isn't much to do except talk to her. There are a LOT of possible endings (over thirty, I believe) and you won't find them all in an hour. For obvious reasons, it's tough to get killed in this game, and the only puzzle is exploration, so it is overall beginner-friendly ... provided you're not an obsessive completionist.


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